OnePlus is getting ready to launch its new flagship, the OnePlus 6, at a global event in London on May 16. In India, the official OnePlus 6 launch will take place a day later, and the phone will be an Amazon exclusive like in the past. An Amazon India registration page is also live. When it comes to OnePlus 6 and its specifications, most of the key details have been confirmed by the company.
Yes, there will be a notch, the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor, a version with 128GB storage. Oh, and the phone will sport a new design with a glass back as well as dust and water resistance included. The question though will be: Does OnePlus 6 have enough to lure users to upgrade? For sometime, the OnePlus phones have been branded as flagship killers. However, in 2018, it would be fair to say that OnePlus and its phones have established themselves in this premium price segment in India.
With the OnePlus 6, the company will be hoping to follow up on the success of its variants: OnePlus 5T and OnePlus 5. The former continues to do well in the Indian market. Recent data from Counterpoint research showed that OnePlus 5T was the best selling smartphone model in the premium segment (above Rs 30,000) and captured 25 per cent of the share in this price bracket, just below Samsung. In fact, in the first quarter of 2018, OnePlus 5T did better than Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus and Galaxy S9, according to Counterpoint data.
There’s no doubt OnePlus 6 will have a tough task convincing users to make the upgrade, though if one goes by past trends, these might not necessarily be OnePlus 5 or 5T users. Data from CyberMedia Research’s Mobilytiks showed that in Aug-September 2017, only 5 per cent of those migrating to OnePlus 5 were existing OnePlus users. In contrast, remaining sales of OnePlus 5 came from almost all other major brands.
OnePlus 5 got 28 per cent buyers from Samsung, 14 per cent from Motorola, according to data from Mobilytiks. The list of brands from where users were switching also included Apple, Xiaomi, HTC. According to the firm, 64 per cent of the users of OnePlus 5 were from a non-OnePlus base. Evidently, the Chinese start-up has emerged as the brand, which people are comfortable picking up in the above Rs 30,000 price segment. OnePlus and its phones have proved their performance is worth the price tag, at least if one goes by the numbers.
Perhaps another way that OnePlus has stood out is the kind of specifications it offered for the price. The idea of a Rs 30,000 phone sporting the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 series processor has been popularised by OnePlus and its phones. And users don’t mind paying a higher price as long as the phone promises new features and performs well. For comparison, OnePlus 5 was launched at Rs 32,999, a higher priced compared to the previous OnePlus 3 which started at Rs 27,999 when it launched in 2016, and yet the phone did well in the market.
Still, for OnePlus 6 it won’t be as simple. It launches at a time when the Indian market suddenly has a lot more options in the ‘premium segment’. More brands want to play in this segment, in order to establish themselves as a quality player. There’s the Nokia 8 Sirocco, which has an excellent camera and stock Android to offer, as we noted in our review. Huawei’s P20 Pro sports an unbeatable smartphone camera, even though the price is Rs 64,999.
Huawei’s sub-brand Honor will launch another phone called Honor 10, which will likely compete in a similar or perhaps lower price range compared to the OnePlus 6. Xiaomi which dominates the overall market, will also launch a flagship in India, though it is not clear which phone it will pick and it could be likely be priced under Rs 40,000.
For OnePlus, being in the top three in the premium segment in India is no small feat. The company is after all a startup, offering just two flagships a year (if you count the T variant). When OnePlus 5T had launched, OnePlus India head Vikas Aggarwal had told indianexpress.com that India would see more people move to premium smartphones in the future. “But what we are seeing now is that people who have been using smartphones for sometime, the mid-range audience, they will now upgrade to the more premium smartphones. They were using devices in the Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 range, in future they will look at Rs 20,000 to Rs 35,000 and perhaps even a Rs 40,000-plus device,” he had explained.
With China market’s shipment declining, and India continues to see growth, it is not surprising that more and more players are taking the market more seriously. The average selling price (ASP) of smartphones in India will only continue to rise. And OnePlus, which is now seen as a trusted player in the more premium segment has a lot more at stake with its OnePlus 6. After all, this is now a flagship phone, and one that the competition will try and kill.